Anat Hoffman to Helen Shardey (Abridged letter)

Dearest friend Shalom.

Thank you for keeping in touch. Thank you for your thoughtful words and solidarity as expressed in the ARZA Australia website. If we had enthusiastic, energetic colleagues like you all over the Jewish world we would be able to create serious and dramatic change in the Israeli social and religious landscape. Your words matter because encouragement like this carries unadulterated TIKVAH for all of us.

I was moved by your solidarity following the events of the new month of Tammuz. We encountered a zealot mob of ultra-orthodox youngsters who grabbed by force our suitcase which was filled with our prayer books, ran with it to the center of the plaza and went ahead with tearing to shreds 39 prayer books. If this happened anywhere else in the world we in Israel would be the first to call it by its rightful name, a hate crime. But, here in Jerusalem this dramatic event ended without the police detaining or questioning any one of the culprits. It’s outrageous! Unacceptable! We must put an end to the rule of ultra-orthodox zealotry over the holiest site of the Jewish people.

I’m afraid that turning a blind eye when ultra orthdox bullies break the law will lead eventually to bloodshed at the wall. In a place where vicious vandalizing of prayer books is allowed, injury to a human being is also possible.

In this state of affairs, it is crucial that the authorities adhere to strict law and order. The Wall must be governed by the laws of the State of Israel, not by the religious impulses of zealots. The Western Wall is one of the most guarded sites in Israel. Hundreds of policemen as well as dozens of state-paid ushers are present on site to uphold the peace.

So what went wrong? The answer is that we were attacked by religious Jews.

Women of the Wall are determined to make the Wall a safe place for everybody. We intend to meet the new Minister of Public Security. We want to show him videos illustrating the failure and oversight which resulted in the desecration of our prayer books. We hope he will listen and will act immediately and effectively.

Thank you my friend for your support
Yours as ever

Anat Hoffman, CEO of IRAC

Anat Hoffman
Executive Director
Israel Religious Action Centre